Craft technology

Craft technology, including hand tools and simple machines, used by skilled master craftspeople, will be reinvented for a zero-carbon future.

When we think of technology we usually think of high-tech and big-tech, like huge automated factories with robots and computer-operated machines. However, hand tools and craft processes are technologies too.

In a lower energy future there will be more use of manual, craft technology – tools, techniques and skills. A number of heritage technologies will be revisited. Whilst these technologies will probably be done with a modern spin, they will nevertheless be done manually with simple machines, tools and natural materials something like they used to be.

Craft production is production that is done by hand. As well as lower resource use, there are many benefits of craft production including social ones such as more jobs and better job satisfaction.

Artisan makers produce many types of food and drink like bread and baked goods; cheese; sauces and condiments; cured meats; and, beer, wine, spirits and cordial.

In addition there are a plethora of other goods that were traditionally made by hand including clothes, rope, baskets, musical instruments, tools, knives, utensils, and crockery.

We have compiled some videos showing examples of craft technologies that will need to be revived and renewed.

Potter (Ceramics master)

Ceramics are made from clay. As an abundant and natural material, clay is sustainable. Humans have used it for centuries for construction purposes. Easy to excavate from the ground, clay requires very little processing once excavated.


On the islands of Harris and Lewis, Harris Tweed is woven by weavers using only human-powered looms. The wool is sourced, dyed and spun locally as well.

Cutler (Knife maker)

Knives are the ubiquitous tool used by people for millennia. There are different designs around the world. Watch this Korean knife maker forge, shape and finish these beautiful, tough and extremely sharp knives.

Cobbler (Shoe maker)

Shoe-making is largely done in large automated factories. However, there are still some cobblers (or cordwainer’s) making bespoke shoes by hand. Watch one such cobbler below.

Cooper (Barrel maker)

Barrels were used for storing and transporting a wide range of goods in the past. They are still widely used in the wine and spirits industry for ageing which imparts flavour and colour to the drinks. Watch how a wine barrel is made below.

Basket weaver

Baskets, containers and even furniture are made all around the world by weavers of such natural materials as willow, hazel, bamboo, and dried grasses such as New Zealand harakeke (flax).

Roper (Rope maker)

Rope making is mostly done in large industrial factories, however in the following video a Dutch roper shows how he makes rope by hand using traditional technology.